What if you have a set of slides that really needs audio to make sense? That all alone doesn't really work? That was the case with my "story of SysAdmin Steve" presentation that I did back at O'Reilly's Emerging Telephony conference earlier this year. A number of people commented that without the audio, it was hard to really know how it went. This was deliberate, really - there wasa reason for me doing it that way.
Well, I'm now delighted that the SlideShare folks already updated their "slidecasting" audio synchronization tool so that now I can show the presentation in line with the audio. So here it is... in all of its 243-slides-in-15-minutes glory... enjoy my little story (and I think that even if you aren't interested in VoIP security, you may (or may not) find the story entertaining):
Press the green play button to begin. The first slide starts changing about 3:45 seconds into the show - and then they start changing at a rate averaging about once every 2-3 seconds. I tried as best I could to sync the slides to the audio... I may adjust it in some places (and the cool part is that you can adjust it!).
Feedback is, as always, quite welcome. This was a fun presentation to do... and using SlideShare's slidecasting interface does let me relive a bit of that fun!
Have you ever heard a podcast or recording of a presentation and wished you could see the slides or materials that went along with it? Or perhaps even worse - you have the slides, but you wish you could know when the speaker advanced to the next slide? Wouldn't it be great if there was some way you get the audio synced to the slides?
Welcome to the world of "slidecasting"! Later today, Slideshare.net will be rolling out a new audio interface that lets you sync an MP3 file to a set of slides. The process is ridiculously simple:
Upload a slide set to Slideshare.net (after creating an account if you don't have one)
Click on Edit and then the "Edit Slidecast" tab.
Provide the URL for an MP3 file to link to. (the file will then be retrieved and loaded into the interface)
Use the synchronization interface to indicate the beginning and end markers for each slide.
Preview (if you want) and then publish.
The result can be seen in this sync'd presentation below. It takes the audio podcast from Blue Box Special Edition #16 and combines it with the appropriate set of slides. The slides start changing about 3 minutes into the presentation (since there is the intro and such):
(If you are incredibly impatient and can't wait the 3 minutes, you can click the arrow button to advance to the first slide and then you'll see the slide movement.) Other examples are also available on the blog of SlideShare CEO Rashmi Sinha.
The slidecasting interface (step #4 in my list above) itself is quite trivial to use (click on the image below to see a larger version):
You simply click on the slide you want to sync, starting with the first one, and then adjust the start and end markers with the mouse. You can obviously play the audio (shown by the red line on the image) and then sync the slides as you go along. Very easy to do. It's all AJAX/Flash/etc. so it just works in a standard browser. Kudos to the SlideShare team for making it as easy as it is.
The interface will still evolve, too. During the beta period (I was a participant), there were some issues found. For instance, I would very much like to sync the audio for my "Black Bag Security Review" presentation since it is a presentation that really needs syncing with the audio to make sense. However, the slide set is 243 slides in about 15 minutes, which works out to about 3 seconds a slide. In many cases the transition is about 2 seconds! However, the user interface only allowed for the smallest interval to be about 5 seconds. For 99% of presentations out there, that's probably perfectly fine... for this "story" presentation, though, I need that shorter time. The SlideShare folks are looking into what can be done, so hopefully I'll be able to get that out there soon.
In any event, the slidecasting interface will apparently be made available to all SlideShare users later today and it will be very interesting to see what people do with it. For me, given that I speak at conferences and also record my presentations and put them out as podcasts, it's a wonderful way to sync the two pieces and give people who could not attend a bit closer of a view of how the presentation went. I could see this being used for corporate presentations... for training materials, etc. I imagine one the primary uses may be conferences that record the speakers and then want to sync them to slides.
A criticism, of course, is that you could just take this type of material and create a video out of it. Either directly record the presentation and slides using a video camera, or use a tool like Camtasia to create a "screencast" of a presentation and then upload the resulting video somewhere. That's certainly true... although I would wonder if screencasting tools are out there that sync the audio with slides as nicely as this. Obviously you could have the presenter doing the recording on the PC and moving through the slides, which would result in a great screencast. However, this does involve the presenter being involved with the recording, whereas the SlideShare slidecasting capability can take the audio from a presentation and have it be synced to slides much later.
I'll write more as I use the interface more, but in the meantime, you can head over to SlideShare.net and try it out yourself. The interface should be out of beta sometime today. (We were asked to hold off on blogging about it, but once TechCrunch posted about it, the embargo request was lifted.)
What do you think? How do you see this service being used? What would you use it for? Do you currently use other services?